We used to go camping quite often when the children were very little (over 10 years ago) we stopped going because I damaged my spin, I tore a disc which is inoperable, it is pressing on my spinal cord and it's extremely painful.
We had to cease camping because I was confined to a wheelchair and it would be too difficult for my husband and I to plan and execute especially with young children, besides that, the thing that was worrying me most was that there were no suitable beds available and I needed a bed that wouldn't make my condition worse and would allow me to sleep.
Eventually once my pain medication was sorted out and I learned to manage the condition more, I started doing daily physiotherapy and exercise, I purchased some special crutches and I got myself up onto my feet. I'd missed spending time with our family doing the things that we used to, so I couldn't wait to start off on our adventures again, now somedays I can’t get out of bed so I’m by no means cured, I’ve had to learn over the years what I can and can’t to do, mainly I monitor what I’m doing and how far I’m pushing myself. It’s no good walking for miles and getting us all stranded, I walk with walking/trekking poles because the crutches are no good for uneven terrain or steep hills, I enjoy walking but I have no feeling in my left foot so I need something to help stabilise me when walking. I also need something that allows me put some of my weight through it and helps to stop me from falling over because I can be unsteady on my feet, even more so when I’m on uneven ground, the poles have helped a lot.
However, the poles do not stop the pain and I’m not a superwoman by any stretch you have to want and be able to bare walking in pain, I spent 4 years in a wheelchair being pushed around feeling like a burden and being sat on, sometimes I could manoeuvre myself when the pain wasn’t to severe, it was a horrible experience and I was sat on, bashed on the head by peoples bags and looked down upon. When you’re in a wheelchair often people talk to whomever is accompanying you, you seem to loose your identity you're made to feel by all accounts ‘half of a person’. I don't believe that this aways intentional I think it's a combination of people feeling awkward and not knowing what to say. I desperately wanted to be able to explore more to go on walks to enjoy the scenery that I loved, the crutches are great and they've help me no end but they’re not much good on any other surface than standard pavement/concrete. I thought that I would give the walking poles ago, if you have ever looked into walking poles you will know that there price can vary widely and I didn't know if I would be able to use them so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that could end up thrown up a corner. My Sister purchased some from our local Lidl and she gave them to me to try. I watched as few videos on you tube and tried them out on a walk, I can’t use them in the same way as the videos suggest (I googled Nordic Walking Poles), I simply can't walk like that. So I played about with them until I felt comfortable. I cheaper ones did help but the height adjustment is done by turning the pole in opposite directions and when you start to put any weight through them they begin to slide and shrink which made them feel a little unsafe.
I purchased the next pair from Amazon still a little dubious, but this time I went for some carbon ones (the previous ones were aluminium) with external lever locking clips, these are more reliable than the cheaper poles they don't keep slipping down which makes them start to shrink and they're very light, the handles are softer on your hands.
The thing I like most about walking poles is that they have a tip for hard even ground that removes to reveal a carbon tip that you can use in soft even ground, this way you have something to help and support you whilst climbing and during your decent. I have seen on my travels people of all ages and abilities using walking poles, it's nice to see people out and about and you tend to find that people are very friendly when you're away from the hustle and bustle. They fold down so they're easy to store, I just leave mine in the boot of my car, my Berghaus backpack has a holder that is designed especially for walking poles, which is great for when you want to sit and enjoy a meal or a drink without having poles falling over.
I’d like to try some with with shock absorbing properties next!
(Here's our review of some LEKI shock absorbing poles)
>> LEKI walking poles <<